IPv6, Vonage, and why I’m smiling…

I bitch a fair bit about tech support, and in my defense, it’s not totally unjustified. My family can attest to the 7 calls and 5 hours it took me to get my mom’s new Tracfone activated recently.  (To Agent #1, yes, I do think it’s reasonable to expect to be able to use a mobile phone when I’m not at home.  And to Agent #2, reading me the scripted response slower and with enhanced diction does not make what you are saying any more correct.)

I’ve worked in tech support. I get the challenges, and I get the cost pressures companies are under. And I know why the person I’m talking to lives in Argentina, just started last week, and is armed with all the knowledge that three days of crash courses and access to a cobbled together database can provide.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

But once in a while, you get that special and exceptional experience that cements your loyalty to a company.  This is the holy grail of customer support.  It’s what it’s all about. And today, Vonage nailed it. I want to recognize them for that.

I’ve been a Vonage phone service customer since the company was in its infancy 10 years ago. I’ve always had good phone service with them, and on the rare occasion I’ve needed support, they’ve always been helpful and good to deal with.  But today was completely unexpected.

You see, June 6th was IPv6 launch day.  A brand new Internet addressing scheme was turned on and left on for the first time. There’s no need to panic. The old IPv4 scheme will still work in parallel for years. And the vast majority of users won’t ever know the difference.  Most of the changes will happen with your ISP, but some older home networking routers and such may need to be upgraded or replaced.

Anyway, I’m currently running a Vonage provided wireless router which is not IPv6 compatible. So on a whim, I drop Vonage an email asking what their upgrade plans are. I specifically said this wasn’t a problem now, but wanted to know if they had a plan and what the timing was. I completely expected to get a canned response explaining they were working on it and I should just be patient.

Instead, a few hours later I received a personal response saying that my existing router was, in fact, not IPv6 compliant. They have an IPv6 compliant single-port device they’d be happy to send me at no cost to me. Then they went on to offer that they recognized this means I would now need to buy my own wireless router in my home, so they were issuing me a $50 credit toward that purchase.  All I needed to do was confirm my shipping address.

Well confirm it I did, and they promptly responded that they upgraded me to overnight shipping since I was such a long-time customer. And oh by the way, the old (perfectly good for several years) router was of no use to them, so I could just keep that too.

Frickin’ awesome.  Above and beyond.  I’ve been debating lately whether or not to keep the home phone service at all as I mostly just use it for conference calls at work.  But I’m committed now.  I’m keeping ’em. Hell, I’m hoping they launch a cell phone service, a line of refrigerators, designer tube socks… whatever, sign me up!

And that, my young Padawans, is what customer service is supposed to feel like.

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